Monday, February 28, 2011

Design Indaba Finds 2011

Yesterday I descended the rabbit hole to soak up the visceral Cape Town Design Route at the annual Design Indaba. I'd been lapping up tweets from the seminars during the week, so was eager to see what the expo had to offer. I'd thought that Sunday may be quieter, but despite the sunshine and blue skies, the crowds were out at the CTICC. As I wondered the maze of the floor plan, being jostled and nudged, I wished that this meeting of cool creatives happened more than once a year. Judging by the turnout, my sentiment was shared.

Onto my finds - a mere taste of all that was available. I have a passion for Skermunkil jewellery, so I didn't need any prompting to add another piece to my collection - a tiny copper heart, fired in blue on one wide and a minty green on the other. Two unusual perfect colours that will blend in and stand out in their own way. Hearts predominate, but you will also be charmed by the birds, kites, flags, hot air balloons, rabbits... (Check out the Skermunkil blog or buy some gems from the Beatnik Bazaar online shop. In fact, you'll find a lot of beautiful, hand-made goodies that were available at the Indaba there.)

The wooden heart earrings and beautiful bicycle-etched heart brooch are by the talented Durban designer Genevieve Motley. Overheard in her stand: "I wish this stall was bigger"! So to make way for her fans, I went with two classic pieces, but was seriously tempted by the bird pendants and earrings, rabbits, bird cages, foxes, flowers... I can't do it all justice. Check out Genevieve's designs on her site.

I've been looking for a comfortable, leather bag in a neutral, versatile colour. Enter Klone - Urban African Design - and their unfussy, well-crafted designs. The style of the bag I chose is called Flying Springbok, in soft "dessert" leather. Klone has collaborated with the iconic visuals of Karin Miller to create bags using modern water-based, eco-friendly inks and recyclable fabric.

Finally, after meandering around the show, getting inspired by the creativity and talent the Indaba attracts and enjoying some sushi from the Earth Fair Market. I ended up at Sarah Jane Webber's I Love Leroy stall and bought a soft, blue, elastic waisted, vest dress with side pockets. Then I left before the CTICC parking and my post-payday revelry bankrupted me...

Until next year!

PS I picked up a fun shirt for The Boyfriend from the creatives at On Top Of The World - putting Cape Town on the map! They've flipped the world - literally! - on its head with maps depicting Cape Town on top of the world!

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Food&Wine Bloggers Indaba 2011 Highlights

A week later, and I finally have a chance to revisit last weekend's Food and Wine Bloggers Indaba. Sunday began with virgin fruity cocktails and the excited chatter of bloggers and foodie enthusiasts descending on Monkey Valley in Noordhoek. In its second year, the event is passionately driven, marketed and executed by the humble Colleen, from BrownieGirl Blog (with some help from her lovely husband Donald!).

I couldn't begin to do justice to all the amazing sponsors Colleen got on board (you can check out the Indaba blog for more details), but everyone left with a hefty goodie bag packed with magazines (Eat In, Eat Out, Taste, Fresh Living), recipe books (Food Lover's Market's Love & Food, Bakers' Take a Biscuit, The People's Guide), samples (Primitiv Vodka, Pesto Princess, SAB beers, Verlaque jam & balsamic reduction, Griottines cherries, Lindt chocolate, Wedgewood Nougat), wine (Detleefs & Wine Lover's Collection), olive oil (Saint Sebastian Bay & Filippo Berio) and, generously, a Wusthof classic pairing knife and voucher from Yuppiechef. Impressive, ne?! (Fellow bloggers, please let me know if I've left anything out by mistake - it was obviously gobbled/greedily absorbed into my grocery cupboard before I recorded it!)

An all-too brief summary of my day... Foodie and veteran food blogger Jean of CookSister! blog fame, was the MC of the day and kicked the proceedings off with a valuable talk on best blogging practices, with 10 practical tips. Food writer Jane-Anne Hobbs, of Scrumptious South Africa, followed, sharing her knowledge on recipe inspiration. She began by asking the important question: are your recipes excellent, inspiring and intelligent? And gave great advice from avoiding being a slave to food trends, to freezing herbs and making the most of seasonal fair. Next on our indaba menu, was the inspiring and talented duo of Abigail Donnelly (food editor at Taste) and Phillippa Cheifitz (cookbook author, food writer and consultant food editor at Taste) who discussed how to get published while projecting some beautiful Taste food photography in the background.

Lisa Key from African Relish tempted us with an escape to their beautiful farm in Prince Albert, for a unique food bloggers weekend (I'm saving!), before Michael Olivier guided us to a greater wine vocab with a blind tasting. Lunch gave us a chance to mingle and chat, and I was able to meet gorgeous Ishay of Food and the Fab, dedicated dad, gardner and eco advocate Matt of ImNoJamieOliver, and fellow sub and avid foodie Robyn of Koek!.

In the afternoon, we all got to attend workshops held by the likes of food stylist Sam Linsell (Drizzle & Dip) and food enthusiast Nina Timm (My Easy Cooking); successful food blogger JamieWho; wine editor for Food24 Cathy Marston (see her Cape Times review of her wine & food pairing talk on her blog); Jamie Schler of Life's a Feast who came from France especially, amongst others. I managed to sit in on her and CookSister! Jean's food writing talk and left inspired and encouraged to be pickier about my adjectives! I also enjoyed a delightful, champagne-fuelled workshop with Jane-Anne Hobbs (follow her on Twitter for an amusing, eloquent and humorous take on the world) and walked out feeling challenged to be a better blogger, wanting to explore second-hand bookshops in search of her recommended reading list, and just a little tipsy!

Well, I better get back to the risotto on the stove. Thanks to everyone involved in making the Food & Wine Bloggers Indaba so interesting, interactive, inspiring, encouraging and fun! I feel blessed to have discovered such a warm community. See you next year!

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Food Blogger Indaba 2011

Tomorrow is the Food & Wine blogger's indaba, held in Noordhoek, with workshops & talks from talented & inspiring bloggers. Being relatively new to this scene, I can't wait to meet and mingle with such interesting folk - just check out the details here. Look forward to updating on how it goes...

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Shhh... My Stir Fry Secret

My secret to a tasty stir fry with tender meat? Marinating the meat – chicken, pork, beef, whatever – in a tangy, sweet, hot sauce. Combine the ingredients below, and leave the meat to marinade while you chop the veg and prepare the rest of the stir fry ingredients. Remove the meat from the marinade and brown it first, setting it aside so you can stir fry the veg, and adding it back towards the end. Then, just before you've finished cooking, pour the marinade over the stir fry and allow to simmer as a delicious sauce. (You can add a little more soy sauce, if needed.)

  • Juice of half an orange
  • Juice of half a lime (or lemon if you can't get limes)
  • Tbsp fish sauce
  • 2–3 Tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 chilli, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 2 Tbsp ginger, grated

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Happy Valentine's Day

Rhubarb Room

It was great to escape the office at lunchtime last week, explore a cool Cape Town boutique and get some inspiration. Rhubarb Room overlooks busy Buitengracht Street, and is stocked with all-manner of gorgeous, unusual home trinkets, gifts, ribbon, notebooks and cards, pewter pieces and clothes. (Baby Birdie spotted this birdcage moneybox – the perfect way to save for my wishlist – which I think I'll have to go back for.) We parked on the steep, cobbled streets of colourful Bo Kaap, and on our walk to the shop, got some respite from the humid February weather with a short shower of huge summer raindrops.

Home-made Healthy burgers

We took advantage of an exquisitely warm, calm evening, by lighting the braai and making some fresh burger patties. Who said your average Wednesday night meal can't be healthy, tasty or romantic?! We traded buns for some potato wedges, tossed in olive oil, salt and some chilli flakes, baked in the oven and patted of excess oil. The patties were made of lean mince; half an onion, finely chopped; a tsp chilli flakes; salt; an egg; 2 tbsp bread crumbs; all mushed together and divided into 4 large patties.

Instead of a bun, we used cos lettuce and stuffed it full of gherkins, tomato, onion and a sprinkle of grated cheese. But what turned out to be the real heros of the meal, were the grilled mushrooms – grilled on one side, turned over and brushed with butter, salt and crushed garlic, left to grill on that side, before turning them over to brown the garlic. Delicious!

We even got to have a toast – Castle Lite has all of the alcohol and half the kiljoules! So one bottle counts as one unit = one for me, two for the Boyfriend. Cheers!

Monday, February 7, 2011


It's like paper dolls for grown-ups! According to the website, Polyvore is the "largest community of tastemakers where people can discover their style and set trends around the world". So you can be the stylist, art director and designer, creating an editorial layout fit for the pages of a fashion magazine. Inspire and get inspired.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Healthy banana & apple muffins

After an indulgent festive season, I'm always on the look-out for healthy snacks to take to the office (and that will satisfy my sweet tooth!). So I made these banana and apple muffins with wholewheat flour. They're very tasty (especially still warm from the oven, as my boyfriend can attest, after three in a row!) with a cup of tea.

  • 5/6 apples, grated (Perfect for those overripe, floury apples you're not keen on eating anymore.)
  • 2/3 soft, overripe bananas, mashed
  • 2 cups Krakley wheat flour (This one has a nutty taste and texture, but you could go with anything wholewheat, like a cup of oatbran and a cup of brown.)
  • 7ml baking powder
  • 5ml bicarb/baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • Pinch of salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 100g butter
  • 250g brown sugar
How to make
  • Cream the sugar and melted butter together. Add mashed bananas and blend.
  • Include eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.
  • Combine dry ingredients.
  • Stir in grated apple, then add dry ingredients slowly, mixing well.
  • Grease a muffin pan and bake at 180ºC for around 15 minutes, until browned/firm to touch/testing fork comes out clean/muffins have moved away from the edge of pan/all of the above.
  • Allow to rest, before cooling on a rack.

Summery Smoked Angel Fish

A relaxed Friday evening with perfect weather and a delicious dinner – delicate, flavourful smoked angel fish (from a stall at the The Biscuit Mill/Neighbourhood Goods Market), crunchy-skinned baked potatoes, a simple salad (sweet cherry tomatoes, chunks of cucumber, red onion, feta with olive oil and balsamic vinegar) and a chilled glass of buttery La Colombe unwooded chardonnay.

Worm Farm

South Africa, sadly, is far behind the rest of the world when it comes to recycling. In relation to the population, there's a small percentage of conscious consumers that make an effort. I'm occassionally comforted to spot craft made of recycled goods, hear the muncipality is collecting recycling in certain suburbs or seeing a recycling depot open in a community. We have an independent, non-profit recycling company that we pay to collect plastic, glass and paper weekly, but have been wanting to get a worm farm for our organic matter. (If you're in Cape Town, check out Abundance Recycling here.) There are quite a few out there, of varying sizes and prices, but I found this worm farm from Global Worming! It came with compost and worms in the middle box, and we could start putting in scraps immediately (though it mentioned in the instructions that the worms may not eat at first and lose some weight "from the stress of travel"!). Two weeks later, and the worms seem to be thriving. The weather's been very warm, so we keep showering them with water to keep the environment nice and damp. Apparently worms eat upwards, so once we've filled the middle box, we'll begin on the top one, and they'll move upstairs, leaving freshly made compost for the garden. The tap at the bottom is for "worm tea" – a civilised colonial drink especially for plants!

Sweet Bloggers

There are so many bloggers out there creating delicious treats, like this one by Greens n Chocolate. I love brownies, and this Mississippi Mud Brownie looks like heaven. (I look forward to checking out her healthier savoury recipes too – to balance things out!) Thanks to Sweet Like Sugar Cookies and Alli n Son sweet tooth link-ups, scouring the blogosphere and sharing the sweetest recipes. Happy baking!

Red velvet cupcakes hit the supermarket

I received a picture from my sister (mother to the cutest baby ever!), who lives in England, this morning – Red Velvet Cupcakes (see my recipe here) now available at Tescos!

Thursday, February 3, 2011

My Red Velvet Cupcakes

So I found the red velvet cupcake recipe I was after and made them for my birthday picnic this weekend - a hot, happy picnic on The Beaumont's wine farm, followed by a swim in their dam. They were a success and some of the most delicious I've tasted, if I say so – a real "showstopper" as my boyfriend's mom called them. I'll definitely be making them again.

Some red velevet history...
Most recipes nowadays use red food coloring, but the reaction of acidic vinegar and buttermilk tends to better reveal the red "anthocyanin" in the cocoa. Before more alkaline, processed cocoa was widely available, the red color would have been more pronounced. This natural tinting may have been the source for the name "Red Velvet" or "Devils Food" as it's also known. When foods were rationed during World War II, bakers used boiled beetroots to enhance the colour of their cakes. Boiled grated beetroots or beetroot baby food are found in some red velvet cake recipes.

*Recipe notes:
This is supposed The Magnolia Bakery cupcake recipe. It said it made 36, but I got 28 good-sized cupcakes out. You could probably stretch it to 30. I adapted the recipe slightly, as the traditionally "frosting" is made with cream cheese, but I made a plain butter icing, which was enjoyed and complimented the sponge.

  • 3 ⅓ cups cake flour (It says, "not self-rising" but that's all I had and they worked out okay!)
  • ¾ cup unsalted butter, softened (I couldn't find unsalted butter, so I just put less salt in.)
  • 2 ¼ cups sugar (I used castor sugar.)
  • 3 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 4 tablespoons red food coloring (The recipe calls for 6 tablespoons! Thankfully I ran out at round about 4, because I can't imagine how red they would have turned out!)
  • 3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa
  • 1½ teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1½ teaspoons salt
  • 1½ cups buttermilk
  • 1½ teaspoons cider vinegar
  • 1½ teaspoons baking soda (bicarb)
How to make:
  • Preheat oven to 200ºC.
  • In a small bowl, sift the cake flour and set aside. In a large bowl, on the medium speed of an electric mixer, cream the butter and sugar until very light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.
  • In another small or jug, whisk together the red food coloring, cocoa and vanilla. Add to the batter and beat well.
  • In a measuring jug, stir the salt into the buttermilk. Add to the batter in three parts, alternating with the flour. With each addition, beat until the ingredients are incorporated, but do not overheat.
  • In a small bowl, stir together the cider vinegar and baking soda. Add to the batter and mix well. Using a rubber spatula, scrape down the batter in the bowl, making sure the ingredients are well blended and the batter is smooth.
  • Divide the batter into a greased muffin try filled with cupcake cases. Bake each tray for 20 minutes. Remove from the pans when they've stood for a bit, then cool completely on a wire rack.
(Original recipe courtesy of
Butter Icing*
  • 150g butter, softened
  • 250g icing sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 tsp hot water
How to make:
  • Put the butter and icing sugar in a bowl and beat well. Add the vanilla extract, plus enough hot water to make a smooth consistency.
*Should make enough to cover 12 cupcakes. It's better to make smaller batches of icing – too much butter turns the icing yellow, rather than the white you're after.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Baby Accessories

I may be a wee bit biased, but I think this is the cutest little munchkin on the planet, my niece Olivia. Here she is at about 4 and a half months with the most squeezable cheeks around wearing the dearest head band (a Christmas gift from her friend, Ella)! I have this pic pinned up above my desk and I can't stop looking at it, so I had to share. Humour me.